Making A Difference: "Gathering Grounds" - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Making A Difference: "Gathering Grounds"

BRANDON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

When school comes back from the Christmas break Monday, folks in Rankin County can once again get a great cup of coffee at the Gathering Grounds. It's a coffee shop just behind the Rankin County School District office run by challenged students who get some real world experience that hopefully will give them a promising destination after they graduate.

They call the coffee shop ‘Gathering Grounds.' It's in the old Lions Club building on the campus behind the Rankin County School Administration Complex in Brandon. And although it is a part of the student's school program, it is also a very real business open to the public.

And the public, well at least the people who have discovered it so far, seem to like it and have but one word for the coffee.

"Awesome! I do it every day," said Brenda Michael. "I don't even make it at home anymore. I just come here and buy my coffee."

It isn't a matter of making money. It is more a matter of Making a Difference in the kind of lives these challenged students involved in the program will have after they graduate.

The purpose of the coffee shop is to teach employment skills, social skills," said Rankin County Schools Transition Coordinator Julie Paradise. "So when they leave here, when they exit here, will be able to get competitive paid employment in the community and that is our goal."

Julie tells me that many of these students, when they graduate school, will just go home and stay around the house for the rest of their lives. Some may find a job.

"It would be sheltered employment," said Julie. "And that's what we are trying to get away from. We believe that everybody can work and we believe that everybody needs to find where their unique talents lie."

The young people have goals and aspirations and talents. Trust Jones is a born politician. Jessie there already has a job through the coffee shop in the Pine Lake Church's Mother's Day Out Program. And Brandon wants to be a baker someday."

"I can bake brownies, cakes, cookies and cupcakes," said Brandon Holliday.

"Everybody in this shop has a unique personality and something to give," said Julie.

Right now what Gathering Grounds needs most are more customers.

"For them to social interact with and to do their job correctly, they need the customers," said Transition Teacher Jane Smith.

And although the program is just a few months old, it is already producing the desired results, getting these young people out into the world and into life when they leave school.

"Well we have five students that will be moving to paid employment," said Julie. "

And although the program is just a few months old, it is already producing the desired results, getting these young people out into the world and into life when they leave school.

 Well, we have five students that will be moving to paid employment," said Julie. "So we are, we do see that this is really Making A Difference. 

Copyright 2013 MSNewsNow. All rights reserved.

 

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